Intel i350 dual NIC MiniPCIe adapters - legit/workable for TMM nodes?

WANg

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Given that Jetway also makes dual port i350 NICs in minipcie format, I would say that it is legit.

Not to derail the thread too much, but apparently Jetway also makes a 2.5Gbe NIC with an Intel controller that'll fit into a m.2 slot, how cool is that?
Fairly cool - I don’t think most machines with built-in GigE NICs will have nBaseT support. I was looking at the MiniPCIe i350 dualport as the “external” NIC for my Cisco IEC-4650 (the MiniPCIe port is hidden and on the bottom), and since VT-d was supposed to be supported the SRIOV functionality on the i350 “should” work…which should give it an interesting use case..
 

newabc

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Honestly can’t tell if this is a real product - will an i350-T2 even fit in such a size/thermal envelope? The manufacturer claims 3w of power usage…?!
LR-Link(Chinese name: 联瑞) is a pretty old brand on network adapters. But I think it is possible to share a same issue with 10Gtek that since their firmware is written by themselves, Intel's proprietary drivers will not work on the most cases, but the opensource drivers will be compatible.

Update: It is possible that it comes with an i350AM2 chip for a dual port solution(then i350AM4 for quad-port) as most of the Chinese brand NICs when mentioned i350.
 
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WANg

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The important question here is…has anyone here bought/used one? I want some testimonials before I drop some cash - the pricing is nearly double what I would pay for a quadport i350T4…
 

newabc

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I’ve been watching that model NIC too for use in a thin client as a VyOS box but haven’t pulled the trigger… Only 5 left with Prime shipping - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08YXLSFKR/
It is not the same as the LR-Link one but with a much lower price and similar design.
I only found newegg.com (link) has a 3rd party seller as "LR-Link" with the lowest price, but still too high: $81.3 + $20.5 shipping.
 

WANg

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The Hinyseni Intel i350AM2 card (HS-SM-LGI350A-2BT) arrived from Amazon…
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but I ran into 3 issues...

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a) the card is too tall to go into the bottom of my Cisco IEC4650 (I'll probably need to use aviator snips to cut the chassis sheet metal).

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I'll need to figure out if the cable between the NIC and the PHY board is a repurposed SFF8087 MiniSAS cable. It's a bit short and I am not sure if it'll work well for my purposes (note: on the original LR-Link LRES2202PT photos the product shows a Lenovo MiniSAS cable (69Y1332) used to wire the NIC together)…

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b) The connector on my BRIX5 isn't MiniPCIe but rather uSATA. *Ugh*.
Between the unfixable firmware security issue and the non-support for M2, I can see why that box was liquidated for a song.
 
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WANg

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Well, this sucks. I can't seem to get the miniPCIe card to work.

Had to deploy my aviator snips to cut an opening onto the underside of the IEC4650 to mount it - the edges were filed down so I won’t get a bonus case of involuntary bloodletting cutting myself on the sharp edges. So far, no luck getting it recognized in ESXi 7 or Debian 11. It’s as if the card did not exist.

I know the slot is supposed to work (put a MiniPCIe WWAN card into the slot and it was recognized as a USB device), so would need to put in more time to troubleshoot. I might have a dual SATA interface and a MiniPCIe FFC extender somewhere to test this more comprehensively.


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Note: found my Marvell 9525 quadport MiniPCIe sata controller and the MiniPCIe+52 pin port extender set…

It’s definitely a dead (or malfunctioning) NIC. Tried the Marvell on both the top (Wifi) slot with the extender and the bottom slot, and they showed up just fine. Tried the same using the i350 - no bueno, doesn’t even show up on lspci at all, and the port LEDs stays solid on link. It’s going back to Amazon tomorrow for a replacement, and I hope no one here ends up with it later.
 
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Rttg

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You might want to try the NIC with a different machine.

I bit the bullet and bought one too - my Dell Wyse 5070 won’t recognize the NIC, but it works just fine in a HP MP9 G2 (effectively a ProDesk USFF). Both tests used a M2 A+E adapter in place of a WiFi card.

I’m thinking some machines - like the 5070 - must have a bios whitelist that blocks the NIC from working. Perhaps that’s the same with the IEC6450.
 

RTM

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It could also be a power delivery issue, that the i350 card requires more power than is available.
 

WANg

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You might want to try the NIC with a different machine.

I bit the bullet and bought one too - my Dell Wyse 5070 won’t recognize the NIC, but it works just fine in a HP MP9 G2 (effectively a ProDesk USFF). Both tests used a M2 A+E adapter in place of a WiFi card.

I’m thinking some machines - like the 5070 - must have a bios whitelist that blocks the NIC from working. Perhaps that’s the same with the IEC6450.

Eh, i didn’t recall the Wyse 5070 having a MiniPCIe slot - aren’t they only equipped with M.2?

Regarding the power issue, that’s not something easy to solve, since I am not aware of any way to inject additional power into the socket. As far as I know, the standard 3.3v power rail on a MiniPCIe slot only has a 1 Amp limit, the 1.5v rail has a .75A limit, and I think there is an additional optional 3.3v rail that has a .33A limit, which makes it max out at between 3.3 and 5w (I am not sure if it’s pick one out of the 2 or 3 available, or pick a combo and sum up the wattage). However, this clone card never states its power consumption level, and it acts like it has an electrical fault. As for testing it on other hardware? Tried that using the MiniPCIe extender and the slot (intended for Wifi+BT) on fhe Brix5 and the HP t420/t520 thin client - not a single bit of difference - the card simply does not show up.

As for whether it is BIOS whitelisted? Maybe, but I kinda doubt it. If there is a BIOS lockout there will be a message reporting the presence of an unauthorized part…which is what happened on my HP Elitebook 2560p (when I popped it in), but no such message manifested itself on the IEC4650 (which doesn’t do BIOS whitelisting AFAIK) or the HP thin clients (I don’t think it does)…
 
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klui

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If there is a BIOS lockout there will be a message reporting the presence of an unauthorized part…which is what happened on my HP Elitebook.
I have an old HP notebook maybe 2 gens from an Elitebook that has obsolete Intel WiFi and when I replaced it with the one from an Elitebook the system didn't see the device nor did it say it is disallowed/incompatible. Maybe it has to do with electrical or the type of card. That notebook already had the device allow list patched out, too.
 

WANg

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I have an old HP notebook maybe 2 gens from an Elitebook that has obsolete Intel WiFi and when I replaced it with the one from an Elitebook the system didn't see the device nor did it say it is disallowed/incompatible. Maybe it has to do with electrical or the type of card. That notebook already had the device allow list patched out, too.
Well, I currently have 2 hypotheses concerning this card -

a) The i350 card got issues, and its cheap(er) sticker price (49 versus 80 via eBay dropship or 100 via Newegg) made me wonder if some corners were cut.

b) MiniPCIe is not nearly as compatibile as most would’ve assumed - my guess is that there are multiple power rails that the device can tap into, and depending on the way how the circuits are run, maybe the i350 wanted to see more than 3.3w watts but failed to get it…but I would at least get PCIe device enumeration and then device brownout / kernel panic when I use it.

I don’t think it’s the PCIe power compliance (or at least I don’t think it’s the slots on my devices) - I expected my Marvell 88E9215 quadport SATA MiniPCIe card to give me grief, but it didn’t. It was detected at all times on all of the machines, and the heatsink was warm to the touch. As for the i350 card, it’s as if the card blew an internal fuse, since the heatsink on it was cool to the touch at all times and the attached NIC ports stayed solid with the CAT5e media connected.

My Elitebook didn’t even tell me what it saw when I installed that i350, but simply that whatever it was, it was unauthorized and disallowed…and since I found the miniPCIe extender later, I should’ve tested it with an old Acer netbook that I had lying around, which i know did not implement a BIOS whitelist (the other testing was done at 2a on a Saturday). For all I know, the HP might’ve seen current drop on the slot, didn’t get PCIe device enumeration from the card and decided that whatever it saw, it’s no bueno.

Either ways I initiated product return and it’s already on its way back to Amazon, and I would not receive the replacement until Monday earliest. We shall see then.

P.S: the vendor on eBay did confirm that the cable is an SFF8087, which opens up other possibilities for mounting it.
 
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WANg

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Albert Einstein’s once famously defined insanity as doing the same things over and over again but expecting different results...and going by that definition, I felt like I was a bit insane this evening. I got the replacement i350 card a few hours ago and tried it with the Acer laptops, the Gigabyte Brix 5, the HP thin clients, and both the top and bottom slot on the Cisco IEC4650..all I got were the same results as before - it’s not detected at all whatsoever on any hardware. It’s not even like it was enumerated incorrectly - it was simply not showing up, like it was a completely dead card.

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I am going to give it one more day then it’s back to Amazon…unless by some miracle it happens to work (and reliably, to boot) I would strongly recommend against buying this particular card (the Hinyseno).

The included instructions were unhelpful, and their support info is a single sentence asking you to hit up Intel or contact them (via telepathy…? Their contact info is not printed on the instructions or in the packaging). Not quite Mellanox or Solarflare level of support here, folks.

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P.S: I’ll try to land an official LR-Link or Jetway cards for a review if it’s reasonably priced…although I am not sure about it’s applicability for the TinyMiniMicro machines that I work with. i like the idea of slapping a dualport i350 in them and then assigning VFs in something like an embedded Proxmox machine. I might ping LR-Link and ask some questions first prior to pullinh the trigger.
 
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Rttg

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Eh, i didn’t recall the Wyse 5070 having a MiniPCIe slot - aren’t they only equipped with M.2?
I’ve done all my testing with a MiniPCIe to M.2 A+E key adapter.

FWIW, this NIC does work for me in both a HP T730 thin client as well as a HP MP9 G2 when connected to the A+E key M.2 slot that normally accepts a WiFi card.

It’s the Dell Wyse 5070 that unceremoniously doesn’t recognize the NIC.

I’ve tinkered around with various BIOS settings (short of attempting a BIOS extraction/whitelist edit/reflash), and the machine thinks nothing is connected to the M.2 slot (either in the BIOS or when booted to an OS). I thought the M.2 slot on that board/chipset might be CNVi-only (which might explain why WiFi works but not this NIC); however, I did find a M.2 A+E key Realtek NIC that is recognized just fine.

All this leads me to believe that some BIOS blacklist is blocking the i350 NIC, even once booted into Linux, despite never receiving a message / error on POST nor in the BIOS logs (which otherwise track chassis intrusion, missing keyboard/mouse, etc.).